Guillermo del Toro Takes His Eerie Art Collection Around the Globe

Art News

April 23, 2016

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably grown up watching the creepy old movies, reading Edgar Allan Poe, investigating old eerie buildings and going on ghost hunting adventures. For the lovers of fright, Guillermo del Toro has decided to share his spooky art collection with the world, and we couldn’t be happier! The director of Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim, and the iconic Hellboy has been assembling a vast collection of all things creepy: books, films, artworks, and various memorabilia, and storing them in what he calls his Bleak House – and it must be Halloween every day over there! The lucky reporters of The New York Times have taken a tour of the Bleak House with Del Toro, and seen some amazing things: the Dickens room full of Victorian-era furniture and books, the Nosferatu corridor that you access through a secret passage behind the painting, Miyazaki figurines, concept art of H.R. Giger, and so much more. Guillermo del Toro is now bringing his art to a number of galleries around the world, starting with the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA), and then moving to Minneapolis, Toronto, Mexico City, Barcelona, Paris, and New York.

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H. P. Lovecraft is reading one of his own books. Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times via

Guillermo del Toro Art Collection - Bleak House

Imagine this: creepy music playing, blood red walls surround you, Sammael, Frankenstein’s monster is levitating one floor above it. In the living room, the father of the myth of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft, is looking at you through narrowed eyes. This is the world of Guillermo del Toro. This is the house that he writes in, that he comes up with ideas in, that he is inspired by. In the Bleak House, there are libraries dedicated to the horror, the occult, fairy tales, history, anatomy, Gothic romance, and Teutonic mythology. Gothic romance was the genre that inspired his latest film Crimson Peak, starring Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston, for which del Toro wrote the screenplay with Matthew Robbins. It is no wonder that Guillermo del Toro is considered the master of shadows since his art collection is nothing short of terrifying and impressive. Over 700 pieces of original art can be found in Bleak House, spanning from R. Crumb and H.R. Giger, over to concept sketches for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia, and the life-size recreations of Koo Koo the Bird Girl and Schlitzie the Pinhead from the 1932 cult film Freaks. Mr. del Toro even has one of the last portraits of Altamont Doyle, the father of author Arthur Conan Doyle, painted in the asylum where he spent his last years.

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Guillermo del Toro is an avid collector of Frankenstein items. Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times via

Living and Breathing Horror

Who wouldn’t want to live in this house of horror? Well, according to Mr. del Toro, his wife and daughters find it a bit too creepy for everyday life, so the family lives in Bleak House 2, just next door to this macabre collection, but for the famous director this house is a safe haven where he comes when the family is not around. If you were to visit the house, you would see every movie Guillermo del Toro has done and he is to do. This is an art collection and an insight into the director’s mind.

Frankenstein Collection

In Bleak House, you can find a ton of Frankenstein references as the doctor’s monster is the most beautiful creature for del Toro and a continuous source of inspiration for him. He even hopes to one day adapt the story for the silver screen himself. One interesting sculpture of Frankie’s monster is occupying one corner of the house. It is a life-size replica of the monster sitting in a makeup chair, and it was based on the photos of Boris Karloff and his makeup artist Jack P. Pierce, whose hands were molded by Rick Baker, the Oscar-winning makeup artist.

Blade II Monster

Bleak House is the home to a figure from the movie Blade II as well. As the Mexican director said, it is more enjoyable for him to shoot a movie with more items in his collection, and this figure is one of those inspiring ones.

Horror Literature is the Source of Inspiration

In this picture, we can see the cream-colored paperbacks, which were the first creepy books Guillermo del Toro bought when he was just a child. The books were written by his personal hero Forrest Ackerman and include a Best Horror Stories anthology. Del Toro even wrote to Mr. Ackerman pleading to the writer to adopt him, but only received a beating from his father when the letters were found. If you are wondering about the man in the photo, it is the previously mentioned H.P. Lovecraft, reading one of his own books.

The Living Room

Two portraits of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft executed by Michael Deas are hanging on the wall. On the coffee table, inside the box, a replica of the captain’s bed from the Pirates of the Caribbean is sitting among the trinkets and thingamabobs. The seated figure is, of course, the father of all things scary, Edgar Allan Poe.

Hellboy II Prop

Guillermo del Toro bought the gun from Hellboy I at the end of the film, and then rented it to Hellboy II, and traded it for props. The severed head next to it is from the movie Blade II.

Skulls and Skeletons

If you were to ask Mr. del Toro how many skulls does he have in his possession, you would probably get the answer “I don’t know”. He probably owns around 100, and almost all of them are fake. Real skulls creep him out, just like real blood, and real violence. The skeleton on the left is the Hatbox Ghost, from the Haunted mansion ride.

Johnny Eck

Johnny Eck was a sideshow performer born without the lower body. He was one of the people who appeared in the 1932 movie Freaks by Todd Browning. The sculpture del Toro owns is so detailed that each hair was placed on the sculpture with a needle.

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Monster from Blade II is the part of del Toro's art collection. Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times via

Is There a Market for the Macabre?

For the horror aficionados out there, the good news is that there is definitely a place where they can obtain this type of art. While we don’t necessarily follow the scary market, that does not make it less important and interesting to the lovers of the things that go bump in the night. For the bravest souls out there, there is a real-life voodoo market in Togo’s capital city of Lomé, the Akodessewa Fetish Market, where people can obtain oddities, charms, fetishes, and basically anything from alligator heads to talismans for treating everything, from the simple flu to infertility, and charms for removing the darkest of black magic.

Editors’ Tip: Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

If you are loving this Guillermo del Toro’s art collection, you will probably love this book too. The director who wowed the world with his hit films Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Crimson Peak, a guy who wrote the screenplay for The Hobbit trilogy along with Peter Jackson, reveals, for the first time, his inspirations, contents of his personal notebooks, his collections, and his obsessions with curiosities. This book provides an insight into the director’s mind. Interview, running commentary, and various annotations complete the book in order to bring del Toro’s creative visions even closer to the reader. The foreword was written by the famous James Cameron, and an afterword by Tom Cruise, and the book contains contributions from Neil Gaiman and John Landis, and many, many others.

What are your thoughts on this astounding Guillermo del Toro art collection? Would you dare to decorate your house with such scary objects? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page!

All images are for illustrative purposes only.
Featured images: 1. Guillermo Del Toro in the Bleak House via | 2., 3., 4., 5., 6. by Monica Almeida/The New York Times via